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US Government's Social Media Vetting Idea Draws Fire
August 26, 2016
A coalition headed by the Center for Democracy & Technology, the Internet Association, and the American Civil Liberties Union this week filed objections to a Department of Homeland Security proposal to collect social media information from visitors entering the United States. The proposal, published in June, calls for the addition of a request to the I-94W form required for aliens seeking entry.
Twitter Steps Up Counterterrorism Efforts
August 24, 2016
Twitter last week announced it had suspended 235,000 accounts since February for promoting terrorism, bringing to 360,000 the total number of suspensions since mid-2015. Daily suspensions have increased more than 80 percent since last year, spiking immediately after terrorist attacks. Twitter's response time for suspending reported accounts has decreased dramatically.
From the Olympic Non-Robbery to Ford Getting Out of Cars, to Evil NSA: A Strange Week
August 22, 2016
There were three stories that caught my eye last week that I think deserve some additional discussion. One is the alleged robbery of U.S. Olympians followed by questions of whether it really happened because their phones weren't stolen. There may be a legitimate reason for that, and it's one that suggests a lot of folks will be getting huge cellphone bills next month.
Lights Out for Gawker.com
August 19, 2016
Gawker Media owner Nick Denton has revealed that Gizmodo, Lifehacker, Kotaku, Jalopnik, Jezebel and Deadspin will continue with their current writers and other staff members following the company's sale to Univision, but that neither he nor Gawker.com will be included in the transition. The Gawker sites will be joining The Onion, ClickHole and other Web properties in Fusion Media Group.
Uber Revs Engine in Self-Driving Race
August 18, 2016
Uber on Thursday announced plans to begin testing semi-autonomous vehicles in Pittsburgh later this month. Its first partially self-driving Volvo XC90 vehicles reportedly will be assigned at random to customers who use the company's app. Each of the prototype cars will have an actual human on board to act as copilot and monitor the vehicle's performance from the driver's seat.
Edward Snowden Sheds Light on Shadow Brokers
August 18, 2016
Edward Snowden has injected himself into an escalating cyberstruggle that could affect the U.S. presidential election. The reported hack of The Equation Group might have been a warning shot from Russia, Snowden claimed. The group, which is widely believed to be a front operation for the NSA, apparently was hacked over the weekend by a previously unknown outfit called the "Shadow Brokers."
The Big Tech Election Stories No One Else Is Covering
August 15, 2016
Most analysts earn their daily bread by focusing on a particular subject area and following that direction. However, I rebelled against that established pattern. I tend to look between the lines more than many of my peers do. That means when major news media outlets focus on a story, I'm more likely to see what they missed. What interests me isn't what's been covered but what hasn't been covered.
Russian Regulators Scoop Apple Into Price-Fixing Probe
August 12, 2016
A Russian regulatory authority earlier this week named Apple, along with more than a dozen Russian retailers, as a target for an investigation into price-fixing activities. The Federal Antimonopoly Service, or FAS, has seen signs of price-setting coordination among iPhone resellers in Russia, according to a notice published on the agency's website.
Adblock Plus Mouse Roars at Facebook
August 11, 2016
Adblock Plus on Thursday announced that the open source community had created a filter to neutralize Facebook's latest offensive in its ongoing battle with ad blockers. Any Adblock Plus users who want to implement the workaround will have to update their filterlists manually. "For this round of the cat-and-mouse contest, looks like the mouse won," said Adblock Plus spokesperson Ben Williams.
Delta's Tech Glitches Cause More Cancellations, Delays
August 9, 2016
Delta Air Lines reportedly canceled 300 flights Tuesday morning, a day after a mammoth outage that forced it to temporarily ground thousands of flights worldwide and ultimately cancel more than 400 of them. Although an update posted at 10:00 p.m. ET Monday night warned that there would be more than 100 flight cancellations and roughly 200 delays Tuesday morning, the actual numbers were worse.
Facebook Aims to Scrub Clickbait From News Feed
August 9, 2016
Facebook last week announced a new move to fight clickbait in the News Feed: downranking links from Web domains and Facebook Pages that consistently post clickbait headlines. Those that stop posting clickbait no longer will be downranked. Users who post links that lead to a clickbait domain on their personal Facebook page also could have their posts downgraded, according to Facebook.
Is the Internet Turning Donald Trump - and You - Into an Idiot?
August 8, 2016
President Obama was viewed as the first techie presidential candidate when he launched his campaign, and he has been connected at the hip with Google for a large part of both terms. However, the brilliance his teams displayed with using analytics never seemed to carry over into running the country, which was disappointing. Most of the U.S. government still has systems that are decades out of date.
Gawker Founder Sets Personal Bankruptcy Wheels in Motion
August 5, 2016
Gawker founder Nick Denton earlier this week said that he filed for personal bankruptcy protection after exhausting his appeals to stave off collection of damages resulting from a defamation and invasion of privacy lawsuit brought by professional wrestling icon Hulk Hogan. The filing followed a Florida court's rejection of Denton's appeal to block Hogan from collecting a $140 million jury award.
Nintendo Investors' Futile Hunt for Pokémon Go Profits
August 4, 2016
Nintendo investors who thought they would score big returns after the successful launch of Pokémon Go found that actual profits were more elusive than the colorful characters. Nintendo last week made it painfully clear that The Pokémon Co. and Niantic were far better positioned than it was to reap financial rewards. Much of that revenue potential lies in a wealth of in-app purchases.
Apple's Switch to Squirt Gun Emoji Triggers Flood of Emotions
August 3, 2016
Apple earlier this week announced its decision to change the gun emoji in iOS 10, to be released this fall. It plans to substitute an image of a green-and-orange squirt gun for the existing image of a black pistol. The new version of the gun is one of more than 100 new and redesigned emoji characters. The change appears to be a reflection of Apple's stance against gun violence.
Clinton Campaign Latest Target of Hackers Linked to Russia
July 30, 2016
The campaign of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton is the latest possible victim of a series of hack attacks some cybersecurity experts have linked to the Russian government. Campaign officials reportedly acknowledged that an analytics program it uses, which is maintained by the DNC, was accessed in a breach discovered earlier this month.
Trump Tries to Walk Back Comments on Clinton Emails
July 28, 2016
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump on Thursday attempted to walk back some of his remarks at a Wednesday morning press briefing during the Democratic National Convention, including his suggestion that Russian intelligence services should look for more than 30,000 deleted emails belonging to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and reveal them to the world.
KickassTorrents Owner Faces 20-Plus Years in Stir
July 26, 2016
Polish authorities last week arrested the alleged owner of pirate website KickassTorrents, or KAT, 30-year-old Artem Vauln of Kharkiv, Ukraine. Vaulin faces charges in the United States of conspiracy to commit criminal copyright infringement, criminal copyright infringement and conspiracy to commit money laundering. Conspiracy to commit money laundering is punishable by up to 20 years in prison.
Yahoo Deal Could Put Verizon in Google and Facebook's League
July 25, 2016
Verizon has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Yahoo's operating business for approximately $4.83 billion in cash. The deal, which comes on the heels of Verizon's $4.4 billion AOL purchase last year, will allow it to expand its digital advertising business. The purchase will provide Verizon with Yahoo's ad tech tools, search, email and messenger assets.
Verizon on Verge of $5B Deal for Yahoo Core Assets
July 22, 2016
Verizon reportedly is close to a deal to buy the core Web assets of Yahoo for $5 billion, which would end a months-long process of jockeying over the future of the struggling company. Verizon emerged as the winner of a lengthy bidding contest to acquire the assets, according to reports that surfaced Friday. An agreement is expected early next week.
Musk Plots Out Tesla's Next 10 Years
July 22, 2016
Elon Musk has unveiled a second master plan for Tesla, a follow-up to the vision he shared 10 years ago. The original master plan is now in the final stages of execution. The refresh sketches out a multiyear, four-pronged strategy that is about more than vehicles. Musk also plans to advance an integrated solar-roof-with-battery product and create a ride-sharing program, among other things.
Snowden Puts His Mind to Designing Spy-Proof Smartphone Cases
July 21, 2016
NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden and noted hacker Andrew "Bunnie" Huang on Thursday published a paper on their collaboration to design a smartphone case that will protect user privacy. The pair developed a prototype compatible with the 4.7-inch iPhone 6, as it's "driven primarily by what we understand to be the current preferences and tastes of reporters," the paper states.
Google Transparency Report Shows Government Data Demands Rising
July 20, 2016
The number of government requests to Google for citizens' personal data rose in the second half of 2015, according to the company's latest Transparency Report, released Monday. The number has been trending upward for the past few years as the number of people connected to the Internet has increased. The growth also coincides with almost-daily reports of terrorist attacks.
Uber by the Billions
July 20, 2016
Uber just celebrated its two-billionth trip in a 147-way tie, CEO Travis Kalanick announced Monday. Each of the drivers and riders who began their trip at 4:16 a.m. GMT on Saturday, June 18, got a $450 gift from Uber -- the number is significant because Uber now operates in 450 cities across the globe, Kalanick said. The company's growth trajectory is impressive.
Valve to Close the Spigot on Gambling Operations
July 18, 2016
Valve last week announced it would take action against third-party sites that run illegal gambling operations. A number of gambling sites have been leveraging the Steam gaming platform -- in particular, the Counter-Strike game -- to create massive operations that convert virtual skins into cash, Valve said. Valve denied allegations that it has in any way profited from those illegal sites.
Congressional Committee Report Finds Something Rotten at FDIC
July 18, 2016
Officials at the U.S. Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, which insures deposits in U.S. banks, made false statements to Congress and failed to make timely notification of serious cybersecurity breaches, according to a U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space and Technology's interim staff report. FDIC CIO Lawrence Gross has created a toxic work environment, it also says.
Reading Between the Lines: Musk's Folly, Trump's Plan
July 18, 2016
Something like 90 percent of CEOs are planning to put their companies out of business accidentally, based on a KPMG report I just reviewed. After watching Tesla of late, I think Musk is on the fast track to lead this effort, and since I'm a Tesla fan, and I know a lot of you drive Teslas, I thought that might be an interesting, if scary, topic for this week.
EU Ratchets Up Charges in Google Antitrust Probe
July 16, 2016
Google and its parent company Alphabet are facing new charges in the European Commission's ongoing investigation of allegations that Google's comparison shopping and online advertising platforms violated antitrust laws. The EC on Thursday alleged that Google had abused its dominant position by systematically favoring its own comparison shopping service in search results.
Microsoft Wins Legal Victory in Fight Over Email Stored Abroad
July 15, 2016
Microsoft has won its nearly four-year battle against a warrant requiring it to turn over customer emails held on a server in Ireland. Microsoft had complied with demands to turn over account information stored on its servers in the U.S., but it had refused to give up the emails themselves, contending a U.S. judge did not have the authority to issue warrants for information stored abroad.
Consumer Reports Urges Tesla to Pull Plug on Autopilot
July 15, 2016
Consumer Reports has urged Tesla to disable the automatic steering function and change the name of its Autopilot driving assist feature. Questions recently have arisen over whether Tesla's Model S vehicles can operate safely without regular human intervention. Consumer Reports' change request sprang from concerns over a number of recent test crashes, including a fatal accident in Florida.
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What do you think of politically inspired Internet memes?
They tend to be brutally honest about their targets.
They're usually cheap shots based on lies.
They're often stupid but amusing.
They can have a dangerous influence on uninformed people.
They don't impress me one way or the other.